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Vincent van Gogh (3) vs. Grandma Moses

In yesterday‘s battle of the religions, the strongest argument against Mother Teresa was given by Paul, who related that she was friends with all sorts of nasty politicians and that she’s been accused of spending money that came from questionable sources. But if that’s all you can say about her, it won’t cut much ice with Sun Myung Moon, who also was friends with various unsavory characters and scammed all sorts of money. So Moon is more of a badass. But this isn’t a contest about who’s the toughest guy—we’re looking for a seminar speaker here, not a rogue sociologist.

I’ll have to with Mother Teresa. I doubt we’ll see any faith healings but I’m persuaded by Ken’s negative case against Moon:

Moon’s wikipedia page describes him as a “religious leader, businessperson, political activist, and media mogul.” In my experience people with “rock star” status like this make for bad seminar speakers because they tend to be full of anecdotes and fluff, and light on rigorous empirical evidence.

Good point. The last thing we need here is a goddam Ted talk.

And today we have a contest between two artists! Vincent is more famous and would certainly be the bigger draw, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Grandma could give a more coherent lecture. On the other hand, according to wikipedia, “she was a Society of Mayflower Descendants and Daughters of the American Revolution member.” And that sounds pretty duuuulllllllll. It’s up to all of you to make the strongest and wittiest arguments on both sides.

P.S. As always, here’s the background, and here are the rules.

13 Comments

  1. Xi'an says:

    In addition to his unique painting style and very special life, van Gogh was highly literate, as shown through the 844 letters from him that are available today. Hence he would make a terrific seminar speaker about painting, techniques, literature and bohemian artists in the 19th Century. The only negative is that he could choose to turn a deaf ear to questions from the audience….

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is a tuff one. It’s nice though that someone else hates those TED talks as much as I do. TED talks are Self consistent smarm branded as progress.

  3. zbicyclist says:

    Van Gogh has to be more interesting than a DAR member whose artistic work was based on a vanished rural New England.

  4. Matt says:

    I think Grandma Moses would leave me feeling optimistic. She had a lot of life experiences before she came to be known for her art. What work do I have left to do? Could be something amazing…

  5. Jonathan (another one) says:

    Hmmm… van Gogh unmedicated would be… unpredictable. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincent_van_Gogh%27s_health Even more interesting is this abstract: http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/appi.ajp.159.4.519 “Despite limited evidence, well over 150 physicians have ventured a perplexing variety of diagnoses of his illness.” van Gogh under modern medicine would be useless, probably. It’s amazing how much art we owe to a lack of anti-depressants and mood stabilizers. A more interesting statistical seminar would be to get those 150 physicians in a room with a group of statisticians and some diagnostic equipment. Should be fun. Is it OK if van Gogh is just there to be tested at the seminar?

  6. paul alper says:

    Andrew is missing the point about Mother Teresa vs. Sun Myung Moon when he makes an equivalence claim, “she was friends with all sorts of nasty politicians and that she’s been accused of spending money that came from questionable sources. But if that’s all you can say about her, it won’t cut much ice with Sun Myung Moon, who also was friends with various unsavory characters and scammed all sorts of money. So Moon is more of a badass.”
    The key difference is that we all are, perhaps vaguely, aware of the seamy side of Moon but hardly anyone in the United States has a clue about Mother Teresa. In fact, notice that in the discussion Andrew quickly descends into “Moon” but no one ever just writes “Teresa.” The implied genuflection is virtually/virtuous-ly unconscious. And, according to many such as Hitchens, undeserved.

  7. LemmulLemmus says:

    Should Vincent be chosen, there’s a fair chance he’ll storm into the room wild-eyed, high on absinthe, wave a knife at the audience and instruct them to talk about fear. He’s got my vote!

  8. BMGM says:

    I’d go w/ Grandma Moses. I’m a big fan of grandmas.

    BTW, local DAR chapters raise and fund a college scholarship for girls in their regions. My local (CA) DAR chapter made a big deal of the fact that, if you are descended from someone who was here during the revolutionary war–including descendants of slaves, native Americans, and hispanics–then you qualify.

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